In 2009, journalist Lu Ann Cahn was feeling stuck, frustrated and uninspired. The economy was tanking, her job was changing, longtime coworkers were leaving, budgets were being slashed, and she resented the social media she was being asked to embrace at work.
Cahn’s daughter suggested she start a blog. After some thought, Cahn decided to start that blog and write about trying something new every day. For a year.
She chronicles her experiences in her engaging and inspiring book I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day.
Cahn tried things big and small: participating in a Polar Bear Plunge; speaking to a stranger; auditioning for Roller Derby; eating at an Ethiopian restaurant; teaching grad school; learning to cartwheel; learning to surf; zip-lining across crocodile-infested waters; hula-hooping; baking a cake from scratch; and going to the opera.
(You can see a chronological list of all of Cahn’s firsts on her website.)
What did Cahn learn from all these firsts?
“Firsts are the antidote to being stuck,” she writes in her book. She further explains: “They brought the life back into my life. And they also made me realize something incredibly important: Firsts don’t have to be big, dramatic, and risky to recharge and reinvent your life. By just trying small things, you begin to see the world around you with fresh, child’s eyes.”
In her book Cahn also shares ideas for launching our own Year of Firsts. These ideas are sprinkled throughout chapters that include adrenaline-pumping firsts, learning firsts, wacky and weird firsts, charitable and compassionate firsts, and childlike firsts. Here’s a selection, if you, too, are feeling stuck or you’d just like to shake up your routine:
- Take a day trip by yourself.
- Start writing something you’ve been thinking about writing — such as a book, play, or song.
- Don’t say anything negative all day.
- Give others as many genuine compliments in one day as you can.
- Take a ballroom dance class.
- Ask a friend to share his or her hobby with you.
- Rent any kind of boat for the day, from a paddleboat to a speedboat.
- Go to the top of the tallest building in your town.
- Go to the museum on a free day.
- Try a meditation class.
- Eat at the most exotic restaurant in your town.
- Try out for a sports team, even if you know you won’t be picked.
- Take a painting, sculpting, oil, jewelry-making or craft class.
- Make new recipes every day for a week.
- Get rid of anything you’ve had in your closet for over a decade.
- Skip rope.
- Do a paint-by-numbers kit.
- Try skateboarding.
- Eat dessert for dinner.
- Eat dinner for breakfast.
- Put an extra quarter in someone’s parking meter.
- Let people cut in front of you in line and in traffic all day long.
- Work at a food pantry.
- Be a secret Santa for a family who needs help.
Doing something new every day can spark new ideas, and give us momentum — momentum to make changes, if that’s what we’d like to do, or opportunities to discover the many wonders this world has to offer us.